Voting opens March 28 for recreational fee
Students will be able to vote via SurveyMonkey March 28-29 on the $40 recreational fee for fall and spring terms and $20 fee for summer terms said Laura Pantano, assistant vice president for student engagement and success, at the March 23 President’s Leadership Council meeting.
The office of student engagement and success sent a flier March 26 with the voting link to students via jaguar email.
The referendum was previously intended to be added to this spring’s Student Government Association ballot, but the elections were postponed until the fall.
The recreational fee was announced publicly during the three public hearings held over the two-day period March 7 and March 8 at Main Campus Building and Brooks City-Base Campus. At the public hearings, tuition and the consolidation of fees were also discussed.
The fee would fund intramurals or club sports such as soccer, basketball and softball.
“Intramural and club sports require hiring people, money for equipment, leasing space for sports facilities that students club sports program need until eventually the university builds our own facilities,” Mitts said.
To get student input, Mitts explained the value of having student representation during the upcoming vote.
“If only ten students show up to vote and 6 of them vote yes then it passes,” he said.
In a phone interview March 27, Justin Limon, kinesiology senior and Kinesiology Club president, said the club was in favor of the fee and was promoting tomorrow’s vote.
He said kinesiology students have been talking about the fee in class, and he said he’d like to see common sports like football, basketball and soccer added with the fee.
“We might not benefit from it now,” Limon said, but “we just want to get the program going and voice our opinion so later on others can use it.”
A recreational fee has to be approved by students through referendum according to Texas Education Code before it goes to the Board of Regents for final approval. Texas Education Codes are a set of the state statutes that govern public education in Texas.
In that meeting, Mitts explained that the statutes, Texas Education Code Chapter 54, section 54.5032 and section 54.539, permit the Board of Regents of Texas A&M-University System to charge students a recreational sports fee which cannot exceed $175 for each semester if approved by student vote and institution. For more information, read the Texas Education Code Chapter 54, section 54.539.
According to the statute, “the fee may be used only for financing, constructing, operating, maintaining, and improving new and existing recreational sports facilities and programs at the designated institution.”
The University can only vote on funding every two years. The next chance would be 2014.
Tuition and fees were discussed and recommended by the student advisory fee committee during the Feb. 13 meeting, and the executive cabinet reviewed the recommendations Feb. 20. The recommendations included the consolidation of fees into one general University services fee and the increase of tuition by $10 per semester credit hour. Read related story.
Kenneth Mitts, vice president for finance and administration, said he briefed the committee on Texas Education Codes at the Feb. 13 meeting.
Hoyt Garner, English graduate student, Campus Activity Board member and Psychology Club secretary, attended the hearing March 7 representing himself as a student.
Garner said he was informed about the hearing via numerous emails from faculty, in conjunction with other advisory forums such as Texas A&M-San Antonio’s homepage and The Mesquite Facebook and website.
Melody Mendoza contributed to this story.